Mesothelioma: Preparing for the First Medical Appointment
03/14/2011 // Chicago, IL, USA // Mesothelioma Lawyers – Cooney & Conway // Cooney & Conway
While mesothelioma is not one of the more common cancers, it is almost always caused by asbestos exposure—creating a justifiable worry for those who have worked around or have come close to the fibrous material. Mesothelioma is a serious ailment that strikes the protective lining covering many of the body’s organs. But it does not typically manifest noticeable symptoms until the advanced stages. At that point, mesothelioma is incurable, and treatment is of limited effectiveness.
This makes it crucial to diagnose mesothelioma as early as possible. It is imperative that those with a history of asbestos exposure seek medical attention when any mesothelioma symptoms—including chest pain, shortness of breath, painful coughing and unexplained weight loss—are present.
The possibility of mesothelioma is not so remote among asbestos workers, as the many lawsuits brought, and often won, by mesothelioma lawyers attest. That possibility can bring a great deal of anxiety.
So can a doctor’s appointment to check for the deadly disease? Knowing how to prepare for that visit—what to bring and what to ask about—can help reduce the anxiety. But more important, it can ensure that the visit is a productive one and that you get the information, and answers, you need.
Whether your appointment is with your family doctor or a specialist with expertise in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases of the lungs or abdomen, there are general steps you should take before you arrive at his or her office. These include:
• Keep a record of the symptoms you may be experiencing, no matter how minor or ordinary they may seem.
• Make a record, too, of your work history—occupations, places of employment, and the circumstances and length of any asbestos exposure you may have experienced. Even short-term asbestos exposure should be noted, since mesothelioma has developed in individuals who came in contact with asbestos for as little as several days. If you have been involved in construction, demolition or renovation projects, be sure to note that, because these activities can be particularly worrisome. When asbestos is disturbed—as it can be in these types of work—the dangers are heightened. Asbestos fibers can be inhaled easily. They then lodge in the lungs, triggering mesothelioma, lung cancer or other diseases years or even decades later.
• Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you are taking. Note any allergic reactions you may have to specific drugs.
• Take along a friend or family member—not just for support but to have a second set of ears to absorb the extensive, often overwhelming and technical information the doctor may convey to you.
• Gather and bring your medical records, particularly any chest X-rays taken in the past.
• Prepare questions in advance. It’s far easier to talk to the doctor during the appointment than to track him or her down later, hoping for a moment on the phone while he or she is busy with other patients and work. Some key questions to ask: What are other potential causes for my symptoms? What is the best course of action? Are there specific hospitals or specialists you would recommend? Are there any good resources—print or online—that might be helpful?
Remember that many of the symptoms of mesothelioma can also be caused by other—and often far less harmful—diseases. It is important not to panic, even if you do have a long history of asbestos exposure. Take it one step at a time, prepare for the visit, and ask all the questions you need to. With luck, your first mesothelioma-related appointment will be your last.
*This mesothelioma backgrounder was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we have been advocates for those injured because of the wrongful actions of others. We have litigated and resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, bringing justice—and financial compensation—to victims of asbestos exposure and the lung cancer, mesothelioma and other deadly diseases it can cause.
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